Washington, DC—January 15—Dadrian Collins scored a team-high 17 points and Kyle Riley and Anton Dickerson added 13 and 12, respectively, but it was not enough to offset the inside-outside game of Thomas Coleman and Marc Hill who combined for 37 points to lead North Carolina A&T to a 78-65 win over Howard University in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Burr Gymnasium.
Collins and Riley were able to pick up the slack for team-leading scorer Mike Phillips, who was held scoreless in the first half and finished with six points. Riley had his best shooting performance of the season and was also instrumental in setting up Collins and Dickerson for good looks.
The Aggies (8-9 overall, 3-1 in the MEAC) relied on Coleman, their leading scorer and rebounder in the first 20 minutes and he responded with 13 points and 7 rebounds for a 40-30 advantage over the hosts.
Coleman's effectiveness in the first half forced Howard (2-14 overall, 0-4 in the MEAC) to concentrate more on controlling him in the second half. The Aggies were able to adjust and it resulted in Hill finding the range, tallying 16 points after intermission, including 4 of 6 from beyond the three-point line. As a team, NC A&T shot 42 percent (10 of 24) from three-point range for the game.
"Our plan was to limit the touches of their post players," said Howard Coach Kevin Nickelberry. "They did a good job of making adjustments. They were able to get some good looks and they also hurt us with hustle plays."
NC A&T appeared to put the game away during a run that saw them open up a 20-point lead late in the second half. To their credit, the Bison refused to fold and rallied to cut the deficit to single digits twice, but each time Hill and Coleman were able to stave off the rally with clutch free throws. The duo was a perfect 8 for 8 in the second half.
Howard depends heavily on the scoring of Phillips, who came into the game averaging almost 14 points per game. But Phillips picked up two early fouls and was ineffective through most of the game, finishing with 6 points in 19 minutes of play.
"When your leading scorer gets two fouls in the first five minutes, it changes your game plan," explained Nickelberry. "We asked some guys to step and do things that they were not comfortable doing."
Coleman finished with his 10th double double (17 points, 11 rebounds) of the season. Hill led all scorers with 20 and Nic Simpson contributed 15, 9 coming in the second half.
NEXT UP: The Aggies travel to Hampton, VA to take on the Pirates on Monday at 8 pm while the Bison will host Norfolk State at 9 pm in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.